About the Speaker –
About J.B. Danquah Lectures
The J. B. Danquah Memorial Lecture Series was instituted in 1968 in memory of a foundation member of the Academy, Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah, who died in prison in February 1965. J. B. Danquah was a lawyer, philosopher, scholar, novelist, dramatist, politician, and journalist.
The themes for the Danquah Memorial lectures were originally restricted to fields like law, history, philosophy, and literature, disciplines whose study occupied the greater part of J. B. Danquah’s academic pursuits. His Excellency W. B. Van Lare, a Foundation Member of the Academy, who at the time was Ghana’s High Commissioner to Canada, and had had a long and distinguished career at the bench, delivered the maiden Danquah Memorial Lecture in 1968. The lecture was on the topic, ‘The Law, Human Rights and the Judiciary’.
The Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences has held its annual three-day J. B. Danquah Memorial Lectures from 21st -23rd February 2021. This year’s lecture which was themed; “Digitalization and the Future of the Ghana Legal System” was the 55th Edition of the J. B. Danquah Lecture series. Professor Richard Frimpong Oppong, FGA was the speaker for all three days; he is a Professor of Law at the California Western School of Law, San Diego, USA and is called to the Ghana Bar.
Emeritus Prof. Samuel Sefa-Dedeh, President – GAAS, was the Chairperson for the first day; Emerita Prof. Isabella A. Quakyi, Vice President – Sciences Section, Chaired the second day; and Prof. Kofi Opoku Nti, Vice – President, Arts Section, was the Chairperson for the final day. The eloquent Professor of English and Dean of the School of Languages, University of Ghana, Prof. Helen Atawube Yitah, Honorary Secretary of GAAS, was the moderator for the lectures.
The speaker, Prof. Richard Frimpong Oppong in his opening lecture spoke on the topic “Access to Justice in our digital World.” In his presentation, he examined the access to justice deficit in Ghana, arguing for a broader conception of access to justice and exploring the leveraging of digital technologies to create new pathways to justice in Ghana. He argued for restrictions on the advertising of legal services to be removed and for substantial investment in justice technologies. He said, “Restricting the advertisement of legal services prevents people from finding affordable legal help easily to address the issues they face.”
The topic for the second lecture was “Legal Education and Professional competence in our Digital World.” It examined the skills, knowledge, and competencies that legal education institutions must provide for students, to enable them to practice or work in a world that is increasingly marked by digitalization. It also explored the potential of digital technology to transform the delivery of legal education in Ghana. In his presentation, He said “technology-focused clinical legal education is another means of preparing students for practice in the era of digitalization.” Prof. Oppong added that “It is time for a commissioned study into the future of legal education in Ghana. This lecture calls for the first major sector-wide review of legal education and training in our country. All stakeholders, including our law schools, the Bar, the Bench, the GLC, the National Accreditation Board, students, businesses, and the public, should be engaged in this process of digitizing the study and practice of law.”
The 3rd lecture was on “Consumer Protection in the Digital Marketplace and work on Digital Labor Platforms.” Prof. Frimpong Oppong examined how digital technology challenges the Ghana legal system’s regulatory function. It focuses on consumer protection in the digital marketplace and new working methods organised through digital labor platforms such as Uber and Bolt. He for statutory and judicial interventions to protect consumers and platform workers. He said, “A favorable regulatory environment significantly influences the degree to which e-commerce thrives in countries around the world.”
At the end of the 3rd day, Professor Richard Frimpong Oppong said, “Digitalization is gathering pace in Ghana. There is not much we can do to stem this tide, and no excuse for ignoring it as it occurs. On a personal level, we are indeed fortunate to witness this epochal transition from an analogue to a digitalized Ghana. However, we need to decide whether the Ghana legal system will be a victim or beneficiary of the advances wrought by digitalization. My three lectures have argued that digitalization challenges our legal system in multiple ways, but at the same time, our legal system can benefit from digitalization.”
Present at the lecture were Fellows of the Academy, some Judges of our courts, the Attorney General, some students at the University of Ghana and University of Professional Studies law school, Accra College of Education, Accra Wesley Girls High School, Ghanata Dodowa, Presec Legon and Accra Technical Training College. The3-day lecture was streamed on the streamed on the Academy’s social media handles, Zoom and on YouTube. You can access the audio-visual presentation here. The lecture was also broadcasted live on Starr 103.5fm.